Last Friday, I got the chance to sit-down with Indiana State Senator Victoria Spartz and asked a few questions about her campaign. I want to thank the Senator for taking time to speak with me in this busy time.
The entire interview is transcribed below. The full interview is also available in audio form on our YouTube channel, linked at the bottom of the article, as well as on podcast platforms like Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.
What made you decide to run for Congress?
Spartz: I’m a suburban mom and a businesswoman. I decided we needed to get things done and we have too many politicians who don’t get things done. So I decided I needed to make my case.
Your backstory as an immigrant from Ukraine is a big part of your message. How has being an immigrant shaped your political views and perspective?
Spartz: I think in some ways I have more value for all of the freedoms we have in our country. I think that sometimes just coming from a country and as a person that did not have many freedoms, I respect, love and cherish all of the freedoms our country gives. I want to make sure we defend and protect all of the things that made us the greatest country in the world.
I think that probably makes a difference in some ways. It’s the story of a frog in boiling water, you put tin boiling water and you realize people are losing a lot of freedoms in our country and government is getting bigger and bigger. I grew up in a totalitarian government and I understand what it leads too. A lot of people don’t understand it until it’s too late. So that’s why it’s important for us to promote these ideas before it’s too late. We had a lot of people fight for these ideas through history. So we have to be good for our future and for our children.
Through that back story comes one of your bigger plans which is to “stop socialism”. What is your plan to do so?
Spartz: I wouldn’t call it my biggest part of the campaign. I would say the biggest part of my campaign is to deliver results and to deliver solutions and actually getting stuff done. We have too many politicians and government is getting too big with political elites on top and everyone else on the bottom. That’s what socialism is and we’re moving in that direction.
I think delivering good government and delivering limited government that promotes free enterprise, good ideas, good debate and good solutions, that’s really the biggest part of my campaign. Just as someone who grew up in socialism, I understand how bad it is and how collective trends we have in our country are very dangerous. It’s very dangerous how little value we have for freedom we have. I think its important to sometimes remind people. The biggest thing for us is we have challenging problems and we have to get things done to strengthen our people and our country.
How has COVID-19 affected the way your campaign has reached out to the people of the 5th district?
Spartz: It’s an unprecedented time and it’s a challenging time for every campaign. There are a lot of elements to successful campaigns, like grassroots which is typically a strength for most Republicans and with the virus it’s made it more difficult. It’s made it harder to get out. We have a better message and when we get out people love it, but now Democrats can be hiding behind this big money and not telling the truth to the American people. So it gives them an advantage by allowing them to be in the basement and put lies on TV with big money.
I think that’s a disadvantage for every Republican. We connect when we talk to people and we have a proven record of results and we can show what we are about. That’s difficult because you have safety concerns for volunteers and we can’t have large events which just makes it harder. Then people get overwhelmed from all the emails, texts, and phone calls and it stresses them out.
It’s difficult to not have large gatherings and not as many grassroots activists as we would normally do, but we just have to do everything within the limitations.
You are currently an Indiana state senator, how do you think your time in the senate would help you navigate Congress?
Spartz: I’m a businesswoman and I’ve been very successful, but I’ve also been a successful legislator and I think it takes both to understand legislative process. Also it helps to understand the real world and what it takes to get stuff done. I have an understanding on what states can do and what states cannot do and what really can happen. Because its a collaboration of different types of government to deliver solutions and being a state senator I understand the challenges. I understand what could be done to allow more flexibility for the state and how states can operate effectively. I understand what guardrails we need to have at the federal level, so there are no perverse incentives for the state.
So I think it’s extremely valuable experience because most solutions are going to be happening in the states anyways. They never happen in the federal government. Centralized government can provide the right tools so I think this is extremely valuable experience and I’ve worked on major issues. Education, criminal justice, healthcare, at the state level which is very complex issues. I took a deep dive into government efficiency and stood in a lot of different audit committees. I understand a lot about what’s happening at the state level and as you can see there’s a lot of work to be done for us, but not enough efficiency is there in any government structure.
While you are a current state senator, this is your first actual election and campaign since you were appointed to the seat. How has that experience been for you?
Spartz: I would like to say, I wasn’t appointed, I was elected by elected precinct committeeman. Sometimes it’s much harder to convince 100 people to vote for you than a hundred thousand people. These 100 people are very well informed, they understand the issues, and they understand if you tell them the truth or not.
It was a very hard caucus, it was a seven-way race and it was a tough election. I spent several months campaigning for that race, it wasn’t as though someone appoints you. It’s tough to win those caucus races.
I think that’s important. I think that when you have a lot of dynamics in the party and a lot of groups in the party, I think ultimately the voters decide based on what you can deliver. And I delivered some great policies to my district. I worked on some complex issues, I took on some important fights. I worked on deregulation of education reform, on transparency of healthcare, on reform of juvenile criminal justice system. We delivered lots of jobs to the district. We have some issues in the district with conservative district, we have a lot of challenges and topic that come out everywhere. I think you just have to work with your constituents, you just have to care about what you do. And if you do people will value that.
But it’s definitely a different level in a congressional race. There’s a lot of political drama and national drama that effects more than state races. Ultimately people are more driven by national news versus at the state level. At the state level people will expect their state senators and state legislators to actually deliver. They look at you little differently at the congressional level and more people have such low expectations unfortunately. And unfortunately Congress hasn’t been delivering very well, so it’s a little bit different and people are influenced more by lots of national trends. So that makes it harder.
Another one of your key issues is a focus on fiscal responsibility, something that seems to be a smaller part of campaigns nowadays. Why have you decided to make it such a crucial part of your campaign?
Spartz: Well, let me tell you, I’m a CPN and a finance professional and I’ve worked on some of the most complex engagements in the country with big firms. So this is an area of my expertise. I look where I can bring the most value. When I look, you know I’m not looking for a job, never did, I’m just a mother and a businesswoman who’s upset like a lot of us that things aren’t happening. I’m worried about our children’s future and I decided to make my case. It’s a very productive part of my life and I’m going to spend some time and money to contribute to our republic. I will go where I can bring the most value. And if you have an expertise, and I have a very broad expertise in a lot of industries throughout my career in a lot of different kinds of finance.
As a small business owner, I can actually bring values. So I look at it like, where can I bring the most experience and expertise to work on these issues. And I’ve worked on fixing a lot of issues for large corporations and small businesses, so I know how to get things done. So, that’s why I make it a priority, because that’s something I know. Everyone should really concentrate more on the things they know and where you can bring the most value.
I decided to take more time on healthcare, because I understand healthcare prices. And we have hyper-inflation on healthcare prices with a wage suppression issue. Our healthcare has a lot of problems, we’ve spent a lot of money and value is going down while prices are going up. So I understand on how challenging it is as an issue, I did it not because I wanted to work on healthcare, I understand we need to deliver good healthcare and it’s not happening right now. And education, which I believe is the ultimate equalizer.
I had myself a lot of education and I understand how important it is to have a good education. I have a lot of respect because I have European education, I have American education. I can see the differences, I can see where we can utilize the best practices from both schools and improve our workplace development programs that they do much better in Europe than we do here. So, I think there are some things that we need to reform and it’s important. I taught at the college level, I taught public accounting, so that is something I can bring expertise.
I also attack issues that I don’t have expertise. Criminal justice is something I just had to do because it was an issue in my district, not because I am an expert in criminal justice. I spent a lot of time learning about it and spent time working on juvenile justice prevention programs out of the needs of my district. Not because it was my expertise, but I worked with a lot of experts and spent time with retired judges and prosecutors, with people who actually work in that field as attorneys so I can understand.
Do you think your background as a founder of your local Tea Party will hurt you with moderate suburbanites?
Spartz: It’s interesting, because being fiscally conservative is usually what a lot of these moderates are. Actually a lot of moderates probably share the views of fiscal conservatives. Issues of spending, issues of having a low tax environment and the issue of actually controlling our spending, I think most people believe we need to do better. I do not believe moderates believe we should be piling on our debts and spending funneling money to billionaires. I don’t think most moderates believe in that. So I think it’s important for us, especially on those issues.
And people in suburban districts, a lot of them have businesses, they have jobs, and understand that they are going to be the first ones if we have to increase taxes, they are going to be the first ones that government is going to come after. It’s going to affect their lives significantly. So I think fiscal conservatism is actually an issue recently because we go from one drama to another.
We have to figure out how we can get more efficient in spending. We cannot just continue this unsustainable debt level and I think there is a lot of work that could be improved. If you think of programs I calculated at the state level, some of the federal programs we spend $100,000 per person on Medicaid. On child services, we spend $50,000 per child. I think we can send everyone to Harvard business school for $50,000 a year. Only one half goes to families, where does the rest go, no one can tell. So there is a lot of improvement that can happen within these programs where they can actually help people more and deliver more value at much less waste. I think there’s a lot of work that can be done there.
No one can disagree we need more efficiency. Even my Democrat colleagues in the state house believe we can do that. Some issues are hard to tackle, but we need to have that serious conversation.
Your opponent, Christine Hale, has outraised you slightly in this campaign. Along with that there have been some questions about your campaign’s finances, but in the end do you think that fundraising will matter once all the votes are tallied?
Spartz: I’ll tell you something, I think there’s a lot of politics in fundraising and everything else, like the other side and my opponent try to say. I can tell you I’m a determined woman who loves this country and are willing to spend my own money to give back to people. I value everything in our country. I think it’s something that no one has learned to tell me to do except people I represent and it’s important for me. We had a very good fundraising, we had a very good quarter. It would be one of the highest in the history of Indiana.
Unfortunately, right now we have such a political environment, where all over the country we have a lot of democrats raising money through ActBlue and have organized with President Obama and a lot of other people. So they always lead but we are pretty close. They have somewhat more, but I think what we’ve done in the quarter and considering I just decided to run in this race very recently instead of spending two years to look for another job like Christina Hale. She’s been running for a few years and I’ve never been looking for a job. I understand that we have challenges and things need to be done, which it’s a pretty good job that we’ve done and we’ve been pretty competitive.
Ultimately it’s good to have more money and if someone tries to spend a lot and tell lies, it’s much easier when you can spend a lot. It’s this environment though for every Republican, so we just have to be better and stronger. Because we have a better message and unfortunately there’s too much politics and drama so it’s hard to get out the better vision and message when someone puts lies against you. But, freedom is always a fight and you just have to get stronger as a party.
What would be your day-one issue if you are elected to Congress?
Spartz: As I said earlier, I think that we have to fix our healthcare cost and healthcare value and deliver good solutions. All so people can have good healthcare. That we can protect our seniors and Medicare. We can improve on Medicaid, which is completely broke and lots of people have been dying from the virus in nursing homes. We have to have more accountability and flexibility there. We need to make sure we have value for people with pre-existing condition for people with chronic conditions, because we are right now have volume-driven, not value-driven healthcare.
We can get it done and we have to get out done, because this is a very important issue. Healthcare is an issue that effects small businesses that effect people that get sick. Sickness effects every family, so we have to fix it and we have to deliver good solutions. Then we can work on other issues like education and jobs. But it took several years when I was in the senate and we passed some major reforms with some very heavy lifting. It’s not easy, but we need to get all stakeholders to the table and just say, “there is no my way or highway, we’re all in it together, we’re not going to give blame, we are going to give good government and solutions for the people.” That’s something we have to get done and I know enough that I know we can get it done.